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Top Ten Books Set in California

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme: top ten books with X setting.

In case you've missed me completely freaking out about it in a few of my wrap-ups and bookstagram posts, I'M MOVING IN LESS THAN TWO WEEKS. I'm going to college, which is exciting! And I'm moving across the country, which is also exciting, but also intimidating.

So I thought that I would tie this week's Top Ten Tuesday into me saying goodbye to California, because although there are a lot of things that I doubt I'll miss (like this infernal heat wave), I have lived here my entire life and I'm a bit attached. (I should say, though, that none of these books are set exactly where I live. I can drive to a couple of the settings pretty easily, but they're not close enough for me to say that I live there.)

So here's a bookish tour of California, from north to south:

Outrun the Moon - San Francisco: San Francisco's most famous historical event is its humongous 1906 earthquake, and this book takes you right into the middle of it. This travels through Chinatown and into other neighborhoods, giving wonderful insight into San Francisco both before and immediately after the earthquake.

Lola and the Boy Next Door - San Francisco: I know that one of the things that a lot of people loved about Anna and the French Kiss was the setting, and there were probably a lot of people disappointed that the sequel would take place in San Francisco, but I actually really liked the setting! Maybe not quite as unique or charming as Paris, but still pretty great.

The Alchemyst - San Francisco: Remember when I loved this series? Before it completely changed? I miss that. I've actually considered reading at least the first 4 books. But back to the setting - this series moves around a lot, but it starts in San Francisco and ends in Ojai, which is also in California. I don't actually remember whether there are parts in the middle that take place elsewhere, though.

When We Collided - Verona Cove: So apparently, Verona Cove is not a real place. That's a shame, because it seemed so perfect in the book. But there is a city called Verona, and there are a lot of small towns like Verona Cove on the coast of California.

Of Mice and Men - Salinas Valley: This might be the most famous classic set in California. It's definitely one of the only ones I've ever read. And it's a pretty unique setting, too, focusing on migrant workers in the Great Depression.

Everything Leads to You - Los Angeles: This is one of the first books I read where I was always thinking "yeah, I know where the characters are going!" It's actually kind of a weird feeling. You're a lot more connected to the story, but it also doesn't feel like as much of an escape as it would if the same exact story were set in a different story. And this book centers around Hollywood, which isn't particularly unique, but it's about set design, which is!

Dead to Me - Los Angeles: Another Hollywood book, but this one is historical fiction! This one was recommended to me for being similar to Agent Carter, and while I didn't love it as much as I love the show, I definitely see the similarities! If you're interested in the setting and you like mysteries, I'd definitely recommend this.

Everything, Everything - Los Angeles: This book isn't entirely in Los Angeles, but I can't share any details because MAJOR spoilers. But I decided that, because of the surprising lack of books I've red that are set entirely in California, it was close enough.

Island of the Blue Dolphins - San Nicolas Island: Technically, this book might not be set on this island, but it was based on the story of a woman who did live on this island, so I'm going to say that it counts. I'm not a huge fan of this book - it's yet another incredibly depressing book that I was somehow required to read in elementary school - but it's definitely unique, and it's a famous California history book.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds - San Diego: Even though San Diego is the second biggest city in California, this is the only book I can think of that takes place there. This is my least favorite of the Cat Winters books that I've read so far, but if you're looking for a book set in San Diego, this is the only one I can recommend. And I know I have the black sheep opinion on this one, too.

Do you read a lot of books that take place in the state/country where you live? Are there any California books that I missed? Tell me in the comments! 


  1. Lola and The Boy Next Door, and Everything Everything are two of my favorites! Great Top Ten! :D My Top Ten Tuesday!

    1. They're both such great contemporaries!

  2. Outrun the Moon has such a gorgeous cover! And Of Mice and Men, such a classic!
    My TTT

  3. Oh gosh, Island of the Blue Dolphins was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. And I'm dying to read Everything, Everything and When We Collided. Great list!

    1. I was never really the biggest fan of Island of the Blue Dolphins, but it's definitely stuck with me for a long time! And Everything, Everything and When We Collided are both REALLY good, so enjoy!

  4. I used to live in California as well. I really want to read Outrun the Moon and I loved Lola and When We Collided. I never liked living in California to be honest, but I love books set there, especially like in When We Collided. Great list, by the way! My TTT is here:

    1. Outrun the Moon is really great. I'd definitely recommend it! There are things about living in California that I definitely don't like, but I haven't lived anywhere else, so I guess I'm going to have to see how I like that before I make any judgments.


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